Paprikás Csirke

by Jonathan I Hirsch

Paprikás Csirke

The key to Hungarian cuisine is simplicity and time.

Csirke Paprikas (‘Paprika Chicken’) is one of the greatest of Hungarian culinary perfections.

A day after arriving in Budapest, we made our way to the Great Central Market, which stands only a stone’s throw from the Danube. A beautiful market filled with dozens of stalls. Dried peppers tied in wide arches over the glass cases of homemade cheeses, meats, and pickled vegetables.

We bought four chicken thighs from the butcher, homemade butter and sour cream from the dairy stall,  tomatoes, paprika, dill, red peppers, and noodles from another.

The day turned to night, and midway through a bottle of korte palinka (pear brandy), we ate as though we’d never eaten before.

Recipe after the jump

Csirke Paprikas

4 medium-sized chicken thighs (bone-in)
2 green bell peppers
Hungarian “sweet” paprika
1 Large yellow onion, chopped.
3 tomatoes (Roma or the equivalent), diced
sour cream
dill, to taste
1 cube, chicken bouillon
2 or 3 dried hot peppers

Sautee the chopped onions in butter until they are translucent. Add the chopped peppers, and pan-fry the chicken thighs on medium-heat in the butter, peppers, and onions until brown on both sides, usually 15-20 minutes.

While the thighs are on the pan, melt butter into a larger pot, and add chicken bouillon and a cup of water. Add paprika (two heaping tablespoons at least, you can never have enough paprika!) to the pan, along with the dried hot peppers. Transfer chicken thighs to pot and cover. Cook on a medium-low simmer for at least one hour, or until the chicken is falling off the bone.

While the chicken is simmering, add the diced tomatoes to the pan of onions and peppers and let simmer on a low heat until the tomatoes gradually liquify. Once the chicken is cooked to your liking, pour the remaining cooking juices into the pan of peppers, tomatoes, and onions. Turn off the heat, and slowly (carefully) start adding sour cream to the sauce until it becomes a hearty, creamy stew. Add dill to your liking, and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Serve with noodles or cheese dumplings, and hug a Hungarian.